Jan. 11, 2018 - Curbing the damage from feral swine requires the cooperation of many nations, because of the animals’ ability to freely roam across borders. These swine – also known as wild hogs – root up and damage crops, carry bacterial diseases and parasites, destroy birds’ nests and the animal habitats, and cause more than $1.5 billion dollars in damage to property and agriculture every year in the United States. APHIS International Services (IS) veterinarians and agricultural specialists play a key role in the transnational efforts to reduce and counteract these predators and their destructive habits.
From December 11 – 15, 2017, Dr. Luis Lecuona, IS veterinarian-in-charge of the Wildlife Program in Mexico City, Mexico, attended the Second International Seminar of Feral Swine held in Rivera/Santana do Livramento, at the Uruguayan – Brazilian border, where nearly 100 feral swine specialists from agricultural agencies, universities, research centers, producer organizations, and hunting agencies in Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, as well as special guests from the University of Queensland in Australia and representatives from APHIS International Services discussed the feral swine presence, damage, and control strategies in the region. A comprehensive agenda of technical presentations and roundtable discussions was developed to review the management alternatives for feral swine control in South America.
On December 12th, Dr. Lecuona presented the advances in the USA – Mexico binational collaboration and mutual efforts to establish a regional plan for managing feral swine damage in the border area, showing seminar participants the APHIS international plans for mutually beneficial collaboration with our partners. The binational effort, which supports the APHIS National Feral Swine Damage Management Program, involves IS working with Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science and coordinating support from other offices within APHIS.
Dr. Lecuona was assisted by Ricardo Romero, IS agricultural specialist from the IS office at the US Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, who worked closely with IS’s Uruguayan partners to include two new activities in the agenda. Dr. Lecuona and 20 academicians discussed strategies, activities, and plans for the Wildlife Program from the APHIS in Mexico as an important component of the International Collaboration of APHIS/IS at the first activity, a conference at the School of Veterinary Medicine of the Uruguayan Republic University on December 14th. The second new activity involved a conference that discussed the US – Mexico experience for avian influenza early monitoring in migratory birds during 2006 – 2009, and technical criteria for the rabies in vampire bats were discussed with 25 officials from the Livestock Service General Direction of the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries, on December 15th.
Lecuona discussed feral swine control procedures including individual and corral tramps, hunting over bait, hunting at night, hunting with dogs, trapping/snares, fencing, and advanced control methods such as poisoning and immuno-contraception that were developed in United States. He also discussed the October 2015 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with IS coordinating APHIS efforts. The MOU seeks to integrate the taskforce groups that train field personnel from Mexico’s border region to identify the presence of feral swine and damage, to develop control measurements and to provide early monitoring and disease surveillance.
During the December 2017 seminar, IS personnel distributed 150 units of each one of the Feral Swine Informative Brochures and five copies of the promotional Banners of Feral Swine Management of the Damage Control, as well as 12 nets for vampire bats capture, as part of the collaboration with the Uruguayan counterparts.